Most people don’t experience pain directly related to their food. Yet when I was at my worst, every meal I ate caused me some level of pain either immediately or within an hour or two of finishing. In kind, I started to eat more slowly and eat less variety, even cutting down to no longer consuming dishes but merely ingredients. One day in early May, a friend introduced me to the relatively unknown mast cell activation disorder, and that very night I deep dove into her diet, going cold turkey on most everything I enjoyed within three days of realizing I probably have histamine intolerance.
Before we begin, I want to make sure you’re armed with more resources than I was. It’s important to understand the basics of low histamine diet plans and why they seem so specific and restrictive. Any good elimination diet meal plan will outline the foods you can and should have (see below), but it will also explain why to avoid the things that didn’t make the cut (even if other low histamine recipes allow them). Ideally, it will also emphasize antihistamine foods, as this plan does.
In this case, all the foods off this list are either directly inflammatory or may stop your body from naturally calming inflammation. Because that brain fog and acid reflux and hives and anxiety and stomach cramps? The allergy symptoms way outside of allergy season? Most of them may be caused by a histamine sensitivity often referred to as histamine intolerance, which you can start to treat by changing your diet.
- Getting Started With A Low Histamine Diet
- Low Histamine Diet Safe Foods List
- Tips For Sticking to the Low Histamine Diet
Getting Started With A Low Histamine Diet
Overactive histamines are behind many people’s mysterious and severe allergic reactions to seemingly innocuous foods (and even innocuous places), despite having no recorded allergy. But histamines are in everything, even the environment and especially your food. However even beyond histamines, this sample mastocytosis diet is low fodmap and initially limits all foods which fall under relatively more common sensitivities like sulfites. This is because any such sensitivity has the likelihood of causing similar inflammatory reactions and symptoms.
To prepare for this antihistamine diet, I highly recommend preparing and freezing most of your meals ahead of time. While you could approach this diet slowly, taking out most of the worst offenders (like fermented foods & alcohol, and anything that’s a histamine liberator) day by day, lots of people have issues with even the additives and flavorings in certain foods. So if that’s actually your main issue, a true low histamine diet would help you, but easing into the diet would offer little to no relief at all since there are additives in most things.
Honestly, the list of foods you should take out would be way longer than the list below, and it would probably just make you as sad as it initially made me. But just start off by eating two meals a day. Lessening the load on your gastric system is one of the keys to giving your body time to heal itself of the inflammation. Especially if one of your problems is low stomach acid due to nutritional malabsorption, you’ll need to either chew a lot more or eat softer, mostly broken-down foods. My approach could be described as conservative, but I’ve been through too much agony over the last few years to not take careful action (if I’m gonna take action at all).
How I Came Up With The Safe Foods List
When I was first diving into research, most of the low histamine food lists I found had little overlap with each other, but I took what overlap I could find and wrote it out. Then I looked at a few other diet protocols— like FODMAP and AIP (Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, And Polyols and AutoImmune Protocol, respectively)— and I took out any no-no foods from those diets, in case I was totally wrong with my self-diagnosis.
Now with what I know, I’ve realized that generally these foods are off-diet because of a systemic reaction to one or more nutritional components in that food group, like nightshades, cruciferous vegetables, or dairy. As I said, it’s not important right now to understand the exact compound in any of these foods that you might react to, but suffice it to say that I’ve carefully kept all possibly reactive foods off this 5 day low histamine diet plan.
If after 5 days you don’t feel any better at all, you may still have a histamine issue, and I highly recommend sticking to the plan as long as possible. If you have a will of steel and/or make it to the end of five days and just want to continue, try reintroducing the approved low histamine foods (see below) one day at a time, prepared using the existing approved ingredients. To stretch this to ten days, on Days 6-10, simply repeat the same ingredients from Days 1-5, but adding in pasture-raised whole eggs and the italicized fruits & veggies below on “Day 6”.
Low Histamine Diet Safe Foods List
- Organic Flat Kale
- Organic Arugula
- Organic Carrots
- Organic Butternut Squash
- Organic Sweet Potatoes
- Organic Radish
- Organic Beets
- Organic Turnips
- *Organic Broccoli
- *Organic Brussels Sprouts
- *Organic Cauliflower
- *Organic Cabbage
- *Organic Garlic
- *Organic Onions
- Organic Blueberries
- *Organic Raspberries
- Organic Kiwis
- Organic Coconut Milk
- Organic Coconut Oil and Olive Oil
- Organic Chia and Flax Seeds
- Organic, Free-Range Chicken Breast
- Organic, Free-Range Pork (NOT bacon)
- Organic Chamomile Tea
- Sea Salt
- Fresh Organic Herbs: Ginger, Sage, Rosemary, Thyme, Basil, Lemongrass, Oregano, Turmeric, Bay Leaves, Saffron
*should be avoided for first 3 days of low histamine diet plan, and after that may be used to replace any other meal, when prepared using the above ingredients
What to Meal Prep (Buy Ahead)
You probably have a lot of these ingredients already at home, but make sure that all of those versions are both fresh and organic (though pure dried versions of the herbs & spices are usually fine). You’ll note that these meals are very repetitive, which is on purpose— the easiest way to approach low histamine meals is to prep your food ahead of time and forget about it, at least for a little while (i.e. until you feel better).
If you tend to have a hungry tummy, make one extra serving of each dish, to put in a separate container to prevent temptation to stray off-diet. For these few days, if you’re still hungry after a meal, add another couple ounces of meat per meal or another two tablespoons of oil or coconut cream. Upping your protein in each meal will help you feel fuller longer and pace how quickly the calories hit your system. You can also have a cup of ginger tea or chamomile tea any time, except for the last couple of hours before bed (this is just to lower the volume of stuff in your stomach before you lay down to bed).
- 3 medium sweet potatoes
- 2-14oz. cans coconut milk or coconut cream
- coconut oil
- olive oil
- sea salt
- 28oz/1.75lbs. chicken breast
- 4oz basil (pureed with olive oil to make a plain sauce)
- 2″/2 teaspoons chopped fresh ginger
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh or flash-frozen lemongrass
- 1 bunch of flat-leaf kale
- 1 large butternut squash
- 6-8oz/0.5lbs. pork loin or tenderloin
- 2 pints blueberries
- 1 pint raspberries
- 1-4 kiwis
- fresh oregano, rosemary, thyme, and sage leaves
- optional: chia seeds
Low Histamine Diet Day 1
Breakfast/Lunch: smashed sweet potato and basil chicken.
Drink two huge glasses of water as soon as you wake up, then begin making breakfast: one medium sweet potato, sliced & drizzled with 1.5 tablespoons coconut oil and a sprinkle of sea salt, then roasted 425°F/220°C for 40-50 minutes. If you’re feeling fancy, smash the freshly-roasted potato with a fork and top it with some coconut cream & chia seeds until it’s more smooth. For the basil chicken, bake 110g/4oz chicken breast rubbed with 1 Tablespoon olive oil at 350°F/175°C for 20 minutes. Top with 2-3 tablespoons of the basil pesto sauce and bake for 5-20 minutes, until internal temperature reaches 165°F. Salt to taste.
Snack/Dessert: 1/2 cup fresh blueberries with 3 tablespoons coconut cream or coconut milk.
Dinner: Charred chopped kale (optional ginger), and 4oz lemongrass chicken breast with a dollop of coconut milk on top. To char the kale, simply wash, dry, and de-spine two leaves of kale with a knife. Warm the torn leaves on a nonstick pan over medium heat for about two minutes, until totally dry and wilted. Add 1 Tablespoon of olive oil and a half teaspoon of fresh ginger or a dash of ginger powder. Cook for 5-7 more minutes, stirring more frequently as it cooks, and salt to taste & serve.
Lemongrass chicken is a slight flavor upgrade to plain chicken. Cut your chicken into small pieces, no larger than an inch, and heat it in 2 Tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Once the oil starts sizzling, turn heat down to medium-low and add 1 teaspoon of fresh ground ginger, 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric, and 1 Tablespoon of chopped lemongrass (the green bits inside the root, NOT the white part). Cook for 5-7 more minutes, stirring occasionally, until largest piece shows no pink in the middle and some pieces begin to brown. Add a dollop of coconut cream, and then salt & pepper to taste.
Low Histamine Diet Day 2
Breakfast/Lunch: rosemary roasted carrots with 2oz of chopped chicken salad.
Drink two huge glasses of water as soon as you wake up, then begin making breakfast. Peel one large or two small carrots, then chop them into small pieces. Toss the carrots onto a nonstick pan over lop heat and let them slowly cook for five minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 1 Tablespoon on olive oil and 1 Tablespoon chopped dried rosemary or 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary.
For the chicken, take a 2-3oz piece and cut it into smaller pieces. Cook those smaller pieces in 1 Tablespoon on olive oil for a few minutes, until no piece shows visible pink. Let it cool for a couple minutes, then take that chicken and chop it into thin pieces and add it back to the pan. Pour in another Tablespoon of olive oil along with 1/2 teaspoon each of fresh sage, rosemary and oregano plus 1/4 teaspoon fresh thyme, and turn the heat up to medium high to warm the herbs and brown the chopped chicken. Serve chicken alongside the rosemary carrots, and salt to taste.
Snack/Dessert: 1-2 fresh kiwi fruits.
Dinner: 4-6oz. roasted butternut squash and 3-4oz roasted pork cooked with olive oil and sea salt (ginger optional, but recommended). Peel your squash and cut it into medium-sized cubes. Take your pork loin or tenderloin and cut it into pieces slightly larger than the squash. Toss everything in 2 Tablespoons of olive oil and a half teaspoon of salt + a quarter teaspoon of pepper (this is also when to add a teaspoon of fresh ginger or a half teaspoon of ginger powder, if using). Bake the squash and pork together on a baking sheet at 400°F/205°C for 25-30 minutes, flipping the pieces after 15 minutes to prevent burning. Once the pork is done (generally no longer pink in the middle), the dish is done. Eat or freeze almost immediately.
Low Histamine Diet Day 3
Same as Day 1.
Low Histamine Diet Day 4
Same as Day 2. This is where you can start adding in some of the sulfurous (but incredibly healthy) or otherwise potentially-triggering foods italicized above. If you feel at all more triggered by adding in any of the foods, go back to the pre-approved dishes above and only add in one new ingredient each day. This whole diet is to get an idea of what may be causing all your symptoms.
Low Histamine Diet Day 5
You can choose to make extras of either low histamine breakfast and/or dinner combo you want; same goes for dessert. I recommend just doing Day 1 over again here, but it’s up to you, as each and every one of these foods should have no reaction if you have histamine intolerance, and it should start to ease your symptoms pretty immediately.
Tips For Sticking to the Low Histamine Diet
This mast cell diet is an incredibly healthy one to follow as a general rule (in the short term only), but I understand that it’s not always the easiest. Just take it one meal at a time. Make sure you set yourself up for success by making your home amenable to this change, otherwise you won’t make it through five days! And take it from me— any off-diet food can bring about a reaction. If you really want to follow a diet to see if you have histamine intolerance, then you need to limit your intake of all of them. Here are my tips:
- Have remedies (natural antihistamines and anti-inflammatory foods) on hand in case of a reaction. It’s okay to still be having a bad reaction and a bad day; that doesn’t mean the diet isn’t working. It’s okay to still need an antihistamine on Day 3, as your body won’t recover from the inflammation overnight.
- Keep all your high histamine food as out of sight as possible, and keep the low histamine foods in your fridge & freezer as close to eye level as possible. Somewhere on the outside of your fridge and pantry, right at eye level, keep a notecard with the list of meals you’re going to be eating that day. Distract yourself from thinking about food during this time, and do as much meal prep as you can ahead of time. Try keeping a diary of any ongoing HIT symptoms throughout the diet, for later adjustments.
- I totally get that food is life: keep ALL food on one shelf in the freezer and then one shelf in the fridge so that you’re not even tempted to look elsewhere for something.
- Remember the importance of freezing any prepared foods and keeping veggies as fresh as possible when you’re buying the food from the list above. And please please please buy organic, as the histamine level is generally lower!!
- This one is kind of out there, but if you find that you have some blockage, supplemental fiber may be your friend. I highly recommend using 1 teaspoon of psyllium husk in 8oz. of water if you start to experience any tummy upset. 2 teaspoons of flax meal in 8oz. of water could serve the same purpose, but if it seems to make your stomach upset worse, stop immediately.
If this low histamine diet plan helped you sort out your own approach to histamine intolerance, please let me know in the comments!